Date: Saturday 22nd March 2014.
Venue: St James’ Park.
Referee: Lee Probert.
UK TV: None.
Hot on the heels of defeat at Craven Cottage, we face lower table opposition again this week as we host Crystal Palace, which is of course where Alan Pardew played his football between 1987 and 1991.
Back in December we beat Crystal Palace 3-0 at Selhurst Park thanks to goals from Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa (penalty) and Danny Gabbidon (own goal), so we’ll be looking to do the double over them on Saturday.
The league form for both teams from the last eight games looks like this:
As the above table shows, Palace’s form in the last eight is similar to ours, although they’ve conceded far fewer goals. We can’t really argue that we’ve had tougher games either. In the last eight games we’ve faced three top half sides (Spurs, Chelsea and Villa) and so have Crystal Palace (Arsenal, Man Utd and Southampton).
Alan Pardew will serve the second of his three match ban from the ground, which will be followed by a four match ban from the touchline. Some would argue that Pardew’s ban can only improve us tactically but, after watching our dreadful, insipid effort against Fulham, I’m not sure that’s true. Anyway, John Carver will be the pitch-side boss again this week.
Newcastle will be without Loic Remy again due to his calf injury, and Matthew Debuchy and Davide Santon will miss out thanks to a groin injury and tonsillitis respectively. Longer term injuries afflict Gabriel Obertan, Rob Elliot and of course Ryan Taylor. However, Hatem Ben Arfa and Sammy Ameobi will both be available for selection this week.
It looks like Ben Arfa may feature in Pardew’s plans too as he had this to say about the return of our number 10:
“It’s all about Hatem with Hatem, and he looks in a lot better place. If he brings the right ingredients, the work-rate, the ability to the pitch for us, then he can be influential.
“Against Fulham, with the way they were set up and with no Hatem on the bench, we needed someone who could unlock the door.”
It sounds like he might be planning to start Ben Arfa on the bench and bring him on if we find Palace tough to break down. Personally, I think the lack of Loic Remy is the most significant thing. We just seem to really struggle to score without him and neither Cisse nor De Jong appear to have found there goalscoring shoes yet.
Crystal Palace will be without Dwight Gayle (ankle) and Marouane Chamakh (hamstring), and Garry Gabbidon and Barry Bannan will face late fitness tests to see if they’re in contention.
What The Managers Say
Alan Pardew had this to say about Crystal Palace ahead of the game:
“Tony’s confidence and ability has pulled that team to within a fighting chance, because now they have a fighting chance of staying up. They’ll be showing that on the pitch.
“They had a good performance at Sunderland, and I don’t expect them to be much different really. They will be fighting and scrapping, and Tony’s teams are always very, very sure in terms of their jobs, and we need to come up with some more imagination than we did against Fulham, and some more cutting edge to our play.
“Most of our play was pretty good against Fulham, but the last third, unfortunately, wasn’t good enough.”
Meanwhile, Tony Pullis has been lamenting the absence of Marouane Chamakh:
“Chamakh won’t be fit for Saturday. It is a massive blow because he plays that position so, so well. He is a good player, can score goals and he can drop into that number 10 position. It is a miss, but we have to get on with it.
“Gayley unfortunately got injured in training on Tuesday. It is his ankle. He is having a scan today, so we won’t know what the extent of the injury is yet. We actually trained at Selhurst Park on Tuesday, because we thought it might be a bit too hard at the training ground, but he injured himself at Selhurst.”
The last five meetings between the two clubs have been:
Crystal Palace 0-3 Newcastle (December 2013)
Newcastle 2-0 Crystal Palace (January 2010)
Crystal Palace 0-2 Newcastle (August 2009)
Newcastle 0-0 Crystal Palace (April 2005)
Crystal Palace 0-2 Newcastle (November 2004)
Historically, we’ve won 21, drawn 4 and lost 8 of the 33 matches we’ve played against Crystal Palace in all competitions. In the Premier League, we’ve played Palace 7 times, won 5, drawn 1 and lost 1. The last time we lost to Crystal Palace was in March 1998 when a goal from Shearer in the 77th minute wasn’t enough to overcome Palace’s first half goals from Attilio Lombardo and Matt Jansen.
Howay the lads!